さよなら日本!Sayonara Nihon!

After 4 months of being in Japan, I am home. I would say that I’m “finally” home, but that would make it sound like I wanted to leave Japan. In reality, I didn’t want to leave at all and even petitioned to extend my stay. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, I was not able to convince the administration of Kansai Gaidai to allow me to stay and I will be heading back to Madrid for the remainder of my undergraduate career.

As for the Japan experience, it was “apple and delightful and apple” as we in 3310 would put it. I can tell right now that I won’t be able to fully express in words how amazing the experience was, but I’ll do my best to describe what I can remember.

September:
The first month I was in Japan, I was setting by bearings. If anything, I felt like a lost freshman on a huge campus. At least for SLU Madrid, you can’t really get lost between classroom buildings since there are only 2. Kansai Gaidai, on the other hand, has a handful of big buildings. Luckily, the CIE is located on one side of campus and the rest of the campus is essentially for the Japanese students. The most prominent event I can remember in September was signing up for INFES. Kaitlin and I were on campus one Saturday to meet Kaitlin’s speaking partner. We ended up wandering over to the CIE where we were roped into signing up for something called INFES. We found out that INFES stood for “International Festival”. I remember going to the computer lab to wait for the meeting to start and when it did, everyone seemed to be a bit disorganized. Since it was the first meeting, no one really knew where to go and what to do. We international students stood around and waited for direction. Originally, I wanted to be part of the World Booth to talk about either the United States or Spain, but someone asked me if I could dance and I ended up being pushed to the Dance Booth. After all the ryuugakusee were herded to their groups, the leaders of INFES lead us to another classroom building and eventually a classroom filled with more Japanese students. In front of everyone, the MC introduced all the ryuugakusee one by one and we took our seats. During the meeting we played games and did a quiz and got to know our group members. After the classroom portion was done, we went outside and jump-roped for about 3 hours. I remember that most of the dance booth was made up of Bulgarian dance members. I later told one of the DB leaders that I wanted to watch Soran Bushi and Racenica to see which one I wanted to do. I wanted to do both Soran and Racenica, but someone told me I could only choose one. After Kasey (from Australia) encouraged me to join Racenica dance and after going to one rehearsal and loving both the dance and the people in the group, I decided to join Racenica.

I went to another rehearsal, and I remember that not knowing Japanese was a big setback, but since the dance played on a screen, I basically watched it until I learned it. Our rehearsals were once a week for about 2 hours. Everyone attended the rehearsals and came late if need be. Over the course of the semester, I gradually learned more Japanese and the group also became closer, so the language barrier became less of a problem. If anything, I learned more Japanese from being in that group. Had I not joined INFES, I wouldn’t have learned half the random things I know now.

October:
In October, I finally felt oriented. I had a set schedule and I felt like I had been at Kansai Gaidai forever.I don’t remember all that much from the month of October, other than the fact that every weekend I was out at karaoke. The system was pretty much consistent. Every Friday would be karaoke. Sometimes we would even go on Saturday as well. The beginning of the month sported club-going. Surprisingly (not), I actually only made it to two clubs. A week later was karaoke and whatever messes came in between that and another weekend of karaoke, which brings us to the end of the month.

October 31 is Nana’s birthday. We celebrated by making her a chocolate pancake cake covered in chocolate.

That night we went to a bar in Osaka. We being a bunch of people from Seminar House 3: 3310 awesome reps were Nana, Jenay, Ewa, and me; 3410 reps were Jesse (who didn’t really live in 3410, but basically did because he was there so often), Charlie (dressed as Elmo), Ange (dressed in a cute outfit, but I’m not sure as what…), Natalie (black dress), Olivia (dressed like Natalie), and another girl who’s name I can’t remember (sorry) but she dressed like a リラックマ (ri-rak-ku-ma: A mixture of the words “Relax” and the Japanese word for bear “kuma”); 3510 reps were Joe (dressed as an anime character), Mitch (dressed as a Care Bear in a blazer), and Andrew (dressed as some kind of weird mole).
 
(Olivia took this picture and I took it from my tagged photos on Facebook.)
I think the bar was called Moonwalk, and it was in some back alley somewhere near the club to which we were going. We waited for a really long time until we could finally get in, because being Halloween night, there was some sort of costume party going on, so the place had to be cleaned before we could enter. We finally got in and had a few drinks before less than half of the group headed to the club. The club we went to is called Joule. Before we went in, we had to pay, of course. People wearing costumes got in either for free or for 500 yen, I can’t remember. Then, foreigners got in for a discounted price. Jenay, Ewa, and I weren’t wearing costumes, so we got in for the discounted price. All who was left was Nana, the only Nihonjin in the group. Lucky for Nana, she looks like a foreigner, so she was able to get in with a discount (haha!)
So we get in the club and it’s packed of course. We found podiums to dance on, but then the body guards asked us to get off due to the fact that we weren’t dressed slutty enough. Go figure. Anyways, other than being sweaty, smelling like smoke, and not being able to dance to trans music, the night went really well. After we had our filling of um-chika-ah-chika music, we left and headed towards the golden gates of the 24H McDonald’s nearby. There, we met up with the rest of our exhausted and mildly inebriated group, rested, then made our way to the train station to get home.
The ride back seemed long when we weren’t on the train and short, but long at the same time when we were on it. The order of what I did on that excursion home: Me sitting on the train station floor (grody), getting on a train, me and Andrew being obnoxious and putting our feet up on the seats across from us in order to sleep, me sitting next to Andrew and eventually falling asleep on him, waking up, moving seats to where Jenay and Nana were sitting, being social until we got to the Makino stop. From there: We walked the 20 minute walk home. Jenay, Nana, and I linked arms for most of the way. Then, a sleep that, due to the fact that the sun rises at 5 a.m., probably wasn’t sufficient enough for recuperating after a night of clubbing.

That was my October.

November:
The end of October marked the beginning of… DANCE! The first dance performance lined up was Bon Odori. Throughout the month of October, some Okaasans (mothers) and Obaachans (grandmothers) came to Kansai Gaidai every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.. For these two hours, we international students would be learning and practicing Bon Odori. The group started out small and eventually made its way to 8 girls and 2 boys. The girls did a dance with Sakura blossoms and the boys did a different form of Soran Bushi.

(We dressed in yukata, which is a summer kimono)
The dances went very well and I felt accomplished after doing them on stage. I was surprised at the turnout though! Not only did our roommates come, but also a crowd of ryuugakusei (international students). Karoline was nice enough to record the performance and the Okaasans and Obaachans were also nice enough to give us DVDs and handy-wipes (oh yes, we ryuugakusei are in need of handy-wipes!) Unfortunately, in the mess of laundry, paraphernalia, and luggage, I can’t find the DVD that the Obaa/chaans gave us, so the link I’ve provided (YAY! WATCH ME DANCE!) is actually Karoline’s video (Thanks Karo!). After a weekend of Bon Odori was a break followed by a week of dress rehearsals for nothing other than the International Festival. Since I was part of the Dance Booth, we had rehearsal every night. At these rehearsals, we practiced the dances in the order we were going to perform in, but it was also a bonding experience for the entire Booth. It was a lot of fun because after the rehearsal, a few of the ryuugakusei stayed after to learn and practice “Soulja Boy” and “High School Musical”. As I said in my previous post, INFESDB was the greatest event that I could have participated while I stayed at Kansai Gaidai.
At the end of October and beginning of November, I was lucky enough to catch what I thought was bronchitis. I actually wore a mask to the Bon Odori dress rehearsals.
It was a bit awkward at first, but in the end I actually felt more Japanese. I even felt a little bit less discriminated against (since Japanese people usually look down on Filipinos). I really enjoyed wearing the mask. So after a weekend of wearing the mask and two weeks of pumping Vitamin C into my system (no scurvy for me!), I thought I was ready for INFES weekend. During the week leading up to INFES, I skipped a few classes and rehearsals here and there due to a fever that I was able to subdue some days. When INFES actually arrived, I felt pretty good. I’m pretty sure my recovery was all due to adrenaline, constant dancing, and perpetual orange-eating. Though INFES weekend was amazing- filled with takusan (lots) of dancing and カラオケ (karaoke), come Monday, my body decided to negate all my efforts to recover and all my thoughts that I had recovered. I spent most of Monday in my room, in bed, watching “How I Met Your Mother”. The next day I skipped my morning class, but biked to school later to help Keiko with TOEFL (Keiko is shown here):
(This picture was taken when Andrew brought us little bags of candies. The flavors were Soda, Cola, and Apple. I ate Apple, Keiko had Cola, and Andrew ate Soda. In each pack there are about 5 candies. We decided that we wanted to race to see who can eat all of the 5 candies the fastest. Andrew won, then me, then Keiko. :] )
Biking to school was a bad idea because 1) I wore a mask, 2) I had a fever, 3) I couldn’t breathe. Therefore, after meeting Keiko, I ended up going home again and skipped my afternoon class. At home, I wrapped myself in the “carpet” blanket:
 
(Doesn’t it look like a carpet??)
(… I wrapped myself in the “carpet” blanket) and sat in the lounge. I was trying to pretend that I didn’t have a fever, but I probably looked like death, which is why all of my roommates urged me to go see Okaasan (the “mother” of Seminar House 3). After lots of encouragement as well as not being able to find my Tylenol, I went down to Okaasan so she could take my temperature. She ended up taking it and I had a fever of 37.4 degrees C (99.32 degrees F). Since the temperature was over 37 degrees C, 98.6 degrees F, Otousan (the “father” of Seminar House 3) called Kansai Gaidai so that one of the CIE workers could bring me to the hospital. The temperature ended up going up to 40.something degrees C which is about 104 degrees F by the time I got to the hospital. I felt coherent though and I remember being able to converse and understand what was going on (aside from the fact that a lot of Japanese was being thrown around). I’d have to say that my favorite part of the hospital experience was having a q-tip shoved up my nose in order to check if I had Swine Flu. Ok, in truth, I never want to have a q-tip rubbing up against my nasal glands ever again. 10 minutes after q-tip to nose lovin’, the doctor said that I had Influenza Type A, which cannot be identified as Swine Flu or not. After going to buy Tamiflu and something to suppress my fever, Kumiko-san (the CIE worker) drove to the school, then Top World (a grocery store near the school) to buy water, Seminar House 3 (so I could pack in about 15 minutes and let everyone know where I was going), then the quarantine house. I felt really bad when I went back to Seminar House 3 not only because I was running a temperature of 104F, but also because I couldn’t really let my roommates and Andrew know what was going on other than the fact that I was going to quarantine.
I eventually got to the quarantine apartment, which is located with faculty apartments behind Seminar House 4. It seemed like I was floating along, waiting for medicine to get my fever down. It wasn’t until about 2 hours later that I actually got to take the medicine. For two days I had a temperature of 38 point something.

Anyways, my first night there was full of delirious fever dreams and I woke up in a cold sweat. That day a CIE worker came in to check on me and told me that I was the second girl to stay in girl’s quarantine. She also said that it was possible for me to have a roommate, but I didn’t get my hopes up. While I pondered the fact that I could have a roommate, I got myself ready for a nap. Right when I was about to fall asleep, the doorbell rang, I answered it, and in front of me stood Terao-san (another CIE worker) motioning me to looking down the stairs and saying, “You have a guest!” Lo and behold! A masked, tired, and sickly nihonjin girl from Seminar House 4 was making her way up the stairs to be my quarantine roommate! Though we were both tired and sickly and felt like dying, the 5 days that we spent together were super 楽しかった (tanoshikatta = fun)!

The day after Eri arrived, Andrew ended up going to quarantine next door. Every night he would come over and have dinner with us. We’d joke, do homework, and listen to movies. Aside from the fact that we coughed every 5 minutes and had to blow our noses multiple times, we actually had a lot of fun. It was a great bonding experience. I’m really glad that Eri turned out to be as crazy or even crazier than me. It would have been really difficult to have a roommate that never talked to me. Instead, we made a couch out of futons, took funny pictures of each other, and made cards for our boyfriends. It was a weird kind of girls night(s) and forced bonding turned into a fun friendship!
Andrew and I met up with Eri and her boyfriend at MOS Burger before I left for Japan. I feel really bad that I can’t remember her boyfriend’s name, but anyways, he was super nice and funny. It was definitely fun even though I can’t speak Japanese very well and Eri’s boyfriend can’t speak English too well. Luckily, Eri had a good grasp of English and would translate to Japanese, and Andrew had a good grasp of Japanese to translate things into English.

At the end of November (during quarantine and beyond), I was struggling to keep my head above water because I was in the midst of petition to stay at Kansai Gaidai for another semester. After a long and emotionally degrading process, my efforts along with Andrew’s and my school’s were trumped by a factor beyond my control as well as the fact that I was never able to talk to Dean Yamamoto in the end.

Then, November ran into December and crunch-time began.

December:
Since the entire November I went out only once to カラオケ (karaoke), my flatmates and I decided that December was the time to pick up the slack. Just like late September and throughout October, we were back into the pattern of going to カラオケ every weekend. We also bought a Christmas tree and made the apartment look super Christmas-y. We took a roommate field trip out to Don Quijote (yep, that’s me referencing Wikipedia) and moseyed around the store to find Christmas trees among other things. After a little while, we checked out with our tree, made it outside, then tried to figure out how to bike with a big, inconveniently rectangular box. Maiko ended up taking the package and we made our way home. Once we arrived at the Seminar House, お母さん (Okaasan = mother) was already ready at the desk window to let us know that we have to unplug the tree at night to prevent fires. We also couldn’t put the tree near any furniture. ありがとうお母さん! We didn’t let her down! We decorated the tree with the decorations given to us in the box as well as origami that not only 3310 made, but also origami any visitor decided to make. For example, Hiroshi’s messed up, sad crane (笑★ ひろしちゃんがだいすき〜!^_^):

I think December was intense flatmate bonding time. After a week of getting back on track due to quarantine, I was ready to get back into the カラオケ/ roommate field trip swing.

Jenay, Shiroi-san, and I went to Hiroshima on early Saturday, December 12th. We took the Shinkansen to Hiroshima and the bus back. When we got to Hiroshima, we needed to find our hostel. After some amount of minutes I don’t know, we finally had to ask an officer where our hostel was and we eventually found it. The hostel’s name is: K’s House it’s a really good hostel, and I highly recommend it. K’s House was conveniently located near a trolley stop, so after dropping off our backpacks, Jenay, Shiroi, and I made our way to Miyajima, home to a floating temple:

(Picture from the ferry)
 
For me, the highlight of Miyajima was becoming the king of the deer. After lunch, we decided to get ice cream because ice cream is tasty in cold weather (what?). We walked a ways before we got to the temple, and on our way, we started to pick up deer. Not literally pick up, but they started following us because we had ice cream. Eventually, there were many deer around me trying to get my ice cream. One thing I didn’t know about deer: They like to stand up and reach for things with their mouths. And that’s exactly what they did. So as I pulled my arm back to avoid the deer at my front, a deer behind me took a nice lick at my ice cream. As a result, I chucked my ice cream to the ground with a hope that they would stop following me. Since the ice cream triggered something in their brains and I became associated with that good feeling, they still followed me even though I had only my edible jacket and purse on me.
(Thanks, Jenay, for the photo. At this point, Kaitlin was off somewhere down the island, completely deer free.)
 

After Miyajima, the group took the trolley back to the A-bomb site. Here we saw the building that was right underneath the A-bomb when it dropped:

While walking around the building, some Jehova’s witnesses found us and started asking us questions like, “Do you believe in God? Do you know what God’s name is?” to which we answered, “Uhhmmm… yes?… and God? In Japanese? Jehova?” (Respectively). It was great because none of us knew how to get out of the situation and the woman started to try and convert Kaitlin because Kaitlin claimed that she was Jewish. Fortunately, my phone vibrated and I politely excused myself, thinking the others would follow. Since they weren’t able to escape and were now being invited to the Jehova’s witnesses’ meeting that was being held close to where we were, I went back to the group, made some excuse that Andrew was waiting at the Peace Museum and that we had to go. Luckily, we were able to leave swiftly.
After that lovely encounter, we headed towards the Children’s Peace Memorial:
  (There were lots of art made out of paper cranes in order to commemorate Sadako Sasaki’s attempt to make 1,000 paper cranes before she died of the aftermath of radiation.)
It was really interesting seeing the memorial since only about a week before we went to Hiroshima, I had read about the story in order to write a post in my academic blog “Gomenasorry” (Check it out!) After the Children’s Peace Memorial, we headed to the Peace Museum.
The Peace Museum was really interesting. There were before and after shots of Hiroshima:
 
It was also interesting to read Japan’s perspective on the A-bomb. After getting my fill on Japan’s point-of-view, I made my way to another room that had what people looked like due to intense radiation. After that room was a room dedicated to the children that died due to radiation, including a tribute to Sadako Sadaki. Since the museum was about to close, we blew through the last part really quickly.
We exited the museum and decided that we were hungry. After dropping by a Lawson’s (or quite possibly a 711), we sat on a stone wall and at ice cream, sandwiches, and onigiri (in my case). I definitely miss inexpensive onigiri from Lawson’s and 711. We ate dinner and then made our way to our next adventure.
It was a lot of fun finding the Hiroshima Dreamination luminaria! We took some scandalous pictures under romantic light fixtures as well as lots of pictures of pretty lights!
Then we continued walking down, and found a little open-air mall where ice cream eating and a bit of shopping took place.
(Me, Jenay, Kaitlin)
(
(That’s a large!)
(We’ll make your ice cream with your heart. Ice cream of European Tradition. What? My heart? WHY?!)
After ice cream, shopping, and lights, we made our way back to the hostel. First we got a bit lost, but then we found our way back to K’s House. In general, it was a great day full of adventures. The next day we woke up early to make our way to the bus. The ride was about 6 hours (I think). I slept most of the way and it was a pretty smooth ride back to Hirakata-shi and eventually the Seminar House. 
The end of Hiroshima marked the beginning of finals, which we didn’t study for during our entire trip. Sunday was definitely a cram session for our first tests, which were the Japanese Reading/Writing and Speaking tests. Wednesday was my last day of finals, and Thursday I went into school to do an evaluation for International Entrepreneurship. 
Before Jenay left, we went to karaoke. We also went to Osaka to see the luminaria there. Oh and I completely forgot that the day I came back from Hiroshima, as in Sunday, as in the day before my Japanese final, I decided it would be great to go to Kobe to see the luminaria instead of study. I went with Karo and India. It was very pretty and lots of fun except for the fact that we had to walk around a zig-zag for an hour or more and then we got hungry to the point of crankiness. After we took たくさん (lots) of photos, we tried to find a place to eat. After many failed attempts at a tricky mall, we finally found somewhere to eat! YES!

(The beginning of a pretty walk through lights!)
(おいしいそう!)
(Karo in Osaka)
(Osaka luminaria) 

Thursday night, therefore, became an all-night カラオケsession that I like to call karaoke’s last stand:
  
 
 
 
(Thank you India (shown here) for letting us steal your camera that night. Thanks for the all the pictures as well.)
 On the 18th, Jenay left. Before she left, we sold our bikes back. It’s really interesting to get the feeling of “coming-full-circle”. Jenay and I bought our bikes together, and in the end, we sold them back together. It was weird and sad seeing her leave. The room was also half-empty (literally) because before we leave the room, we have to move the futon and things out into the kitchen.
 
(My side was all that was left.)
She was the first of our apartment to go home. It was such a sad day, so that night, Karo, Shiroi and I decided to do something fun and went to Sweet’s Paradise:

 (Lots and lots of dessert! Dinner backwards! Dessert then spaghetti and pizza!)

Also during my last week, I had dinner with Sunny, Andrew, Genki, and Kana! 
We went to torikizoku (funny thing is, the link I provided is to another Kansai Gaidai student’s blog. I have no idea who it is, but hey thanks for explaining toriki!) Due to Genki loving cabbage, we ordered bowl after bowl until the waiters started to chuckle every time we ordered another. There was so much food and all we could do was stuff our faces and comment about how tasty everything was (おいしいそう!) So that was my last meeting with Kana and Genki (sad day), but at least I got to hang out with them! (ありがとう!みな、だいすきだよね〜!)
I also met Keiko really shortly for the last time! She was an amazing speaking partner to me and a greater friend! I remember when I first met her the second week of school. I was so nervous because I didn’t know any Japanese, I didn’t know how much English she knew, and I forgot what she looked like. When I finally let her know I wanted to meet, I found her in the CIE lounge, sitting with her back against the window. So I walked around, asked, “Keiko?” and to my surprise she was really excited to see me. We had our first lunch, of many more to come, together and talked in broken English and almost no Japanese. All I could do was ask her questions about the language and I realized later on in the semester that I actually learned a lot of grammar that Level 1’s don’t learn until about Level 3 or 4. She helped me a lot with my Japanese, and eventually I helped her with her English. 
One day she told me that she wanted to quit studying English, but decided to keep going because I was helping her. From there on, I was determined to help her raise her TOEFL score because she seemed so disappointed and put down. Every Tuesday we would have “Tanoshii TOEFL Tuesday” and would study TOEFL and take practice tests. On Fridays we would meet again. We called them “Fun Fridays” when we would listen to music and chit-chat about random things in life. I had so much fun with Keiko and I definitely hope to stay in touch with her! 
 


The Saturday before I left, I spent most of the day with the Racenica, Bulgarian dance, girls! It was our Christmas party and our last meeting!

(Kaori is up front, then from left to right: Fumi (not sure what she’s looking at…), Miyuki, Saori, Kasey, Bron, Akina, Me. Miyu is missing from the picture because she wasn’t able to make it.)
 

We spent the night talking, making origami, and eating Nabe (しゃぶしゃぶ aka shabu shabu). It was super tasty!


 
After dinner, most of the Nihonjin girls left to “go get sweets”. Lucky for them, we ryuugakusei are quite gullible, because what they were actually doing what printing a group picture to put on the surprise scrapbooks that they gave us! They also were getting a cake with candles prepared! Tricky! Kaori made the delicious and professional-looking cake! Very yummy!

(Miyuki took this picture! Thanks Miyuki!)
 

(Kaori made the cake! おいしかった!)
 


It was difficult to say bye to the Racenica ladies. Before we all separated, we went to do one last プリクラ (purikura). It was weird because we had our first Racenica bonding party in October and took a Halloween プリクラ and at our last party, we took Christmas プリクラ. I walked home with Kasey and Bron, which brought me back to the first time I walked Kasey back to Seminar House 4. I didn’t really know her back in September/October. It was Racenica that brought us together and we both agreed that joining Racenica was the best group to join for INFES. :]

When I got home, I spent most of my time packing. I didn’t want to hold up お母さん (Okaasan) on Sunday for my inspection, so I tried to pack everything Saturday night. 

(So clean!)


On Sunday, I had my inspection at around 5:40 p.m.. Hiroshi came up to my room to wait for お母さん to come up and look around. At the end of my inspection, right before I was getting ready to leave, Karo and Nana ran into the flat (they had been in Nara all day) just in time to say goodbye. And then, the crying started. First Maiko, then me, then everyone else I suppose. I’m not really sure. I wasn’t  leaving Japan until Monday, December 21st, but instead of waking up super early and making my way to the airport by myself, I was able to stay at Kaitlin’s host family’s house for the night. Another example of coming-full-circle was that our first night in Japan, Kaitlin and I shared a hotel room in the Kansai Airport. On Sunday night, I slept over her house and we shared a room at her host family’s house. 

Saying goodbye to everyone was so difficult and I definitely felt the heart tug when I saw everyone else being sad. Kaitlin’s host family was nice enough to come pick me up at Seminar House 3 as a soggy, runny mess. I couldn’t stay sad for too long because as soon as I arrived at Kaitlin’s house, her host little brother and sister were ready and enthusiastic to start to play. What an emotional trip. I definitely went from one side of the emotion scale to the other. After Mayumi (Kaitlin’s host mom) made me in Wii version, Kaitlin, Mao, Rui, and I played Wii Sports Resort while Mayumi made okonomiyaki for dinner. 

When dinner finally came around, it was super delicious! Mayumi’s cooking is fantastic! Eating dinner with the family made me temporarily forget that I was leaving. Watching the little kids eat and complain that they were full reminded me of myself. お父さん (Otoosan) was also a riot because he could eat so much! He ate all of his dinner, plus some of the kids’ dinner, then another half a okonomiyaki! He said that part of his stomach was for okonomiyaki, another part was for ケーキ (ke-ki = cake), another was for water. He’s such a silly guy. Spending time with Kaitlin’s host family made me realize that: Kids everywhere behave the same way; language barrier is a problem, but can be solved through body language and broken speech; had I been with a host family, my Japanese would have improved a lot or I would have been super confused all the time! 

After dinner and playing with the kids for what seemed like forever, Kaitlin and her host family had their moment of reminiscing. Everyone was crying, Mao especially. Mao (host sister) had a special attachment to Kaitlin, and it was really sweet seeing them interact. Rui, on the other hand was crying because he was sad, but then he cried just to cry. Seeing everyone sad reminded me that I was sad and after keeping back the waterworks, Kaitlin and I headed downstairs to her room to pack.

(Shiroi-san looking up some grammar in good ol’ Genki II)
Sunday night quickly turned into Monday morning, early morning. Kaitlin and I ate our breakfast of toast and our choice of spread (I chose peanut butter and strawberry jelly) and apple slices, thanked Mayumi for the cake she made for the bus ride to the airport, packed our things into the car, and made our way to the bus stop (which was very close to the place where Kaitlin and I performed Bon Odori only a month before). After a bit of a wait, and watching the sun slowly rise, we boarded the bus. What we did not know was that there were aisle seats attached to the regular seats. Kaitlin and I were ready to pop-a-squat in the middle of the aisle. It was a good thing, I sat down in the middle of the aisle before another ryuugakusei from Kansai Gaidai decided to tell me that there was a temporary aisle seat. Thanks. Really. Anyways, that was fun because it just shows that even though it was my last day in Japan, I still learned something new. 

Kaitlin and I made it to the Kansai International Airport and felt as though we were at the beginning of the year again, as we blindly navigated our way to our gates. It makes me smile to think that Kaitlin and I shared our plane ride into and out of Kansai together. 
 
(Flight to Tokyo)
When we arrived in Tokyo, we went through security. During the waiting time, we managed to listen in to a conversation between a very enthusiastic woman from California and a not-so-enthusiastic young man also from California. We also witnessed a couple try to cut the line. There was a woman and a man. The man was dressed in pin-striped dress pants, a white button-up shirt, and a black vest. He proclaimed that he was “going to Afghanistan”, to which the woman retorted “IN A SUIT?” After that Kaitlin and I proceeded to sarcastically play the game “And My Favorite Part of Right Now Is”. I’m so glad our personalities match or else things could have gotten really awkward really quickly. After passing through security, Kaitlin and I exchanged goodbyes really quickly and ran to our next flights. It was sad to say bye, but we knew that we would see each other again during this semester. (LONDON BABY YEAH!)
My flight from Tokyo to Detroit was pretty smooth. Thankfully, I fell asleep for most of the flight. When I got to Detroit, I had very little time between landing and my flight to Boston. After an airport worker didn’t let me use her cellphone (not her fault, it was running out of batteries), then calling me an inexperienced flier, I ran all the way to my gate to find out that my flight was delayed. I don’t even know how long I waited, but we eventually boarded, took off, flew, and landed. Finally, I was back in Boston, seeing my parents (and one of my aunt’s… weird…) at the same, familiar, Logan Airport baggage claim. About an hour later, I was back in my driveway, my house, and eventually my bed.
After taking about a week to write these posts, I feel very nostalgic. A part of me, ok, the majority of me wants to return to Japan. I’m happy, though, to return to Spain. They welcome me back and it will be good to be back in familiar territory. Had I stayed at Kansai Gaidai, I’m sure I would have been comfortable with being a second-semester student. There are many things I could have done while I was there, but the things that I did accomplish were definitely worth it. One day, I will return to Japan and visit the places I missed. Until now, I can only look back on these memories and reminisce about the wonderful times that I had with all of the people that I met.
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December 24, 2009. Uncategorized.

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